Editorial: Stepping in the right direction

Feb. 06, 2013 @ 06:22 PM

Is the U.S. Postal Service too big to fail? We may soon find out after the USPS pushed the envelope Wednesday on its disagreement with Congress.

Contrary to popular belief that the Postal Service is bleeding red ink because of new technologies, the real dagger in its budget is the payment to retiree health benefits. Last November, the agency reported an annual loss of $15.9 billion, about $11.1 billion of which was the costs for future retiree health benefits.

Snail mail, as we’ve come to know it, is decreasing. Emails, online payments and other 21st century actions we increasingly take for granted have impacted the volume of mail since 2006, when it hit an all-time peak.

Wednesday, in a move the Postal Service says will save $2 billion annually, the agency said it plans in August to stop regular Saturday delivery. Packages delivery, a growing asset for USPS, would still be done.

In its tug-of-war with Congress, reducing six-day-a-week delivery requires lawmakers’ approval. It has been denied multiple times. The agency, defined as independent, gets no tax dollars for day-to-day operations, but is under congressional control. Congress, currently operating under a temporary spending measure expiring March 27, could still step in.

Surveys nationally indicate about seven of 10 approve of the Postal Service reducing delivery from six days to five. Advocates for six days note the effects on businesses, rural areas, the elderly and the disabled. More than one hundred Dispatch subscribers will be affected.

Proponents of the reduction say the agency has to try and protect itself if Congress will not. A number of smaller post offices have already been consolidated. Proposed changes to employee health care and pensions are expected.

The creation of the service, done with essentially a much smaller world to serve, was done with the intent to monopolize. It remains quite affordable to most everyone.

Privatizing or increasing the abilities of companies such as FedEx and United Parcel Services would be an economic disaster.

We like six-day delivery. We’re also realistic.

The Postal Service can’t fail, and it can’t continue losing $15.9 billion a year. Cutting $2 billion won’t solve it all, but it is at least a 12-percent step in the right direction.